Any holiday where the focus is on connecting with others while eating delicious food is bound to be a happy one—but one great way to double your feelings of gratitude is to invite friends over for Friendsgiving. It’s a great opportunity to throw old traditions out the window and start your own—whether you’re hosting for the first time, or an old hand at feeding a crowd.
For the conscious consumer, hosting and attending holiday celebrations can take more planning than the average get-together. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite tips to help pull together a mindful Friendsgiving celebration that lets you spend less time in the kitchen preparing and cleaning and more time enjoying your friends around the table.
Make It a Potluck
Friendsgiving is all about connecting with others—so do that with the meal, too! Divvy up the food responsibilities when you invite your guests and ask them to share their favorite holiday dish. It’s far easier—and more time- and energy-efficient—to prep one main dish to share with a crowd than it is to tackle the entire meal yourself.
Skip Disposable Dishes and Linens
Yes, you’ll have more to wash (more on that later). But don’t be tempted by disposables; they’re far less festive and create unnecessary waste. If you don't use your table linens often, factor in time to spritz them with water, then hang them to dry to eliminate wrinkles. (Use your shower rod if you don’t have outside space.)
Fill Your Home with Real Scents
There’s no need to mask the smells of Friendsgiving dinner with an artificially scented candle. Plus, many fragrances contain blends with undisclosed ingredients that may trigger guests with sensitivities. If you simply can’t abide the smell of roasting Brussels sprouts, try a simmer pot as an alternative.
Tackle Tough Holiday Stains
Don't let stains linger. Treat tough stains with a detergent formulated specifically for tackling a broad range of stains, like Seventh Generation’s Ultra Power Plus. For stubborn stains, pre-treat with a stain-remover before washing on cold setting to help save energy. Free and clear hypoallergenic dish liquid will tackle greasy stains, and an ice cube applied to wax drips will let you pry up candle residue with a dull knife. Using an all purpose cleaner to cleanse your kitchen counter is a quick way to raze the area for messes. Remove red-wine stains by rinsing under cold water, then saturating the stain with a mixture of 1 part dish soap and 3 parts hydrogen peroxide. Blot with a white rag until the stain disappears.
Get Creative With the Menu
Who says Friendsgiving needs a turkey? Challenge your friends to incorporate as many local and in-season ingredients as possible. And ask everyone to bring food in reusable containers; as a reward, they’ll be able to take home leftovers to enjoy Friendsgiving for days to come.
Be Thoughtful As You Clean
Have each guest add the leftovers from their own plates to their take-home container, then scrape—don’t rinse—plates. (If you can’t compost where you live, consider making a special trip for Friendsgiving scraps.) Hand-wash any serving dishes with a biobased dish liquid to help cut through stuck-on leftovers—and fill your sink with a bit of water and soap rather than letting the faucet run to conserve as you scrub. When the dishwasher is full with the rest of your dishes, add a powerful grease-fighting detergent and let your dishwasher do the rest—on its energy-saving mode, if possible. Don't forget to wipe down your table with an all-purpose cleaner just in case your table cloth didn't catch everything.
Don’t Forget to Give Thanks
Even if you’re celebrating in a cramped apartment or a dorm’s communal kitchen, there’s plenty to be thankful for. You’ve got friends around your table, plenty of delicious food, and an excuse to enjoy it all together. Above all, don’t stress over the event itself—your friends will appreciate the time and energy it took to host in the first place. Be present, practice gratitude and truly enjoy the time you have around the table with friends and family.